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Nature group pushes ahead with efforts on ground to protect Formentera seaboard

foto compilant dadesThe Formentera Council's environment department reports that this week, a coalition of environmental advocates and bird-watching enthusiasts called GEN-GOB (Grup d'Estudis de la Natura / Grup Balear d'Ornitologia) has completed the second part of an on-the-ground initiative which received funding from last year's Save Posidonia Project.

Beginning in July and dubbed “Posidonia and sustainable marine strategies for Formentera”, the operation is aimed at quantifying the pressure that anchoring ships place on the meadows of Posidonia oceanica seagrass located along Formentera's coast. Operatives also intend to study the success of conservation efforts under way.

To get there, members of the operation have travelled by boat to locate watercraft anchored on sand, rock, posidonia meadows and another seagrass, Cympodocea nodosa. The tracking operations used a system known as AIS (Automatic Identification System) which enables boats to broadcast their coordinates and other relevant information. Divers were dispatched in an effort to assess the state of posidonia meadows.

Preliminary findings
Some four hundred ships anchored on Formentera's coastline were counted in August. Dives took place at ses Illetes, Llevant, es Racó de sa Pujada and Migjorn.

Based on analysis of the data gathered, observers have noted that fewer ships are stationed along the coast than in the past. Previous years saw as many as 760 boats dotting the coastline. Ses Illetes and Cala Saona are historically areas where strain on the seaboard is greatest.

Likewise, drops have been registered in the number of boats anchoring on posidonia thanks to motorboat patrols and more informed seafarers.

Environment secretary Daisee Aguilera, who welcomed the decline in boats dropping anchor on the seagrass, encouraged continued participation in Save Posidonia Project. “This year will be the project's second”, said Aguilera, “and we need everyone to get involved if we're going to push ahead with research and outreach to preserve this undersea treasure”. She pointed out that anyone interested could still adopt square metres of the seagrass at the www.saveposidoniaproject.org website.

Phase three of the GEN-GOB project is set to take place in September.

Formentera gets €66k for local police

foto localitzacio amb-dronThe Formentera Council has received €66,690.36 this year from the Balearic Fons de Seguretat Pública, or “Public Safety Fund”. The money will be directed to staff needs as well as materials for safety.

Public Safety Fund
The point of the fund, apart from helping law enforcement maximise their ability to offer stable and adaptable services, is to bolster coordination between local agencies and promote measures that optimise quality services.

Municipalities must use the assistance to guarantee services are adequate—seventy per cent will be devoted to human resources and the remaining thirty per cent to safety-enhancing materials.

Money from the Public Safety Fund is meant to give distinct branches of municipal and regional administrations the tools to offer efficient law enforcement services and improve public safety in the municipalities of the Balearics.

Competitive exams to fill six police posts
From Wednesday August 22 to Friday August 24, competitive exams will determine candidates for six new posts on Formentera's local police force. The tests will cover general knowledge, familiarity with the territory and regulations at the municipal and island levels, as well as candidates' psychological aptitude and personality traits that may or may not make them fit to serve. The would-be officers' practical and physical qualities will also be tested.

Drone raids and operations in es Cap de Barbaria
Local law enforcement have continued conducting patrols with the help of drones. One operation last week in ses Illetes resulted in the identification of two ambulant vendors and the confiscation of various for-sale items.

The purpose of the drone raids is two-fold: catching perpetrators in the act, and identifying locations used to hide illicit materials, immensely useful for forward operations.

Patrols at the weekend targetted es Cap, another hotspot for itinerant vending.

Formentera hopes to tap sustainable tourism levy for nautical sports centre build and bid to regulate moorage at Estany des Peix

foto estany des peixCounci officials have unveiled two projects they intend to fund with the island's yearly plan to promote sustainable tourism in 2018. The projects —construction of the island's nautical sports center (CEN for its initials in Catalan) and regulation of Estany des Peix— will cost a combined €1.4 million.

Estany des Peix
The plan to install pontoons and low-impact moorage points is guided by a logic of restoring the lake's natural environmental conditions by encouraging orderly, regulated mooring of boats. The bipartisan proposal is aimed at meeting a demand for the service which typically spikes in summer. Regulated moorage has been identified as vital to ongoing use of traditional small drydocks and preservation of natural surroundings.

Given the project's alignment with the key priorities of “Landscapes, conservation and education about environmental-interest sites”set out in the island's annual sustainable tourism strategy for 2018, Council officials are asking to use money from the sustainable tourism tax to finance the €652,156 investment (VAT included).

Nautical Sports Centre
The Nautical Sports Centre build and relocation of the island's municipal sailing school are aimed at tempering the summer-heavy focus of tourism and, at the same time, bolster the amount of “active nautical tourism” available in the low season. Plans are also in place to leverage the public space for educational initiatives concerning the environment inland and at sea.

The project squares with the sustainable tourism strategy's objective of “Acqusition, protection, preservation, modernisation and recuperation of natural, rural and marine environments”, which is why Council officials hope to tap funds from the sustainable tourism levy to pay the €764,433 price tag (VAT included).

Two hundred plus local homes and businesses now have fibre optic connection

foto fibra optica reunioThe Formentera Council officials, together with representatives of Telefónica and Teleco, the company responsible for equipping the island for fibre optic internet, met this week to coordinate the work teams that will drive the rollout of Formentera's fibre optic network.

The gathering, attended by CiF new technologies secretary Rafael González as well as other Council staff and spokepeople from Telefónica and Teleco, was an opportunity for the officials to review the current state of local operations.

Today, 215 businesses and individuals have signed up for the service. The network has already been mounted in Sant Francesc, the island's industrial park and es Pujols, and efforts are under way to extend the service to la Savina and Sant Ferran by October.

González applaued Telefónica's initiative in underwriting the rollout of fibre optic, “which has made high-speed internet a reality today in 215 homes and businesses”. He also pointed up the collaboration between the local administration and Telefónica and Teleco as crucial to the project's“seamless execution”.

Other areas of concern
Administration officials raised the question of setting up a local point of sale and information kiosk, as well as precisions regarding the efforts under way to put an end to the temporary cuts that have dogged the service in the past. The issue of safeguards for the underwater cable in Cala Saona was also raised. Telefónica reps made note of the questions and, with regard to the cable, said a signalling system had already been installed to help prevent breakage.

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Cap de Comunicació i Premsa
Sr. Isidor Torres
Tel. 971 32 23 09
premsa@conselldeformentera.cat